Saturday, August 25, 2012

Author Douglas Corleone

  Douglas Corleone is a former New York City criminal defense attorney. He now resides on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. Doug is the author of the Kevin Corvelli crime novels set in Honolulu. His debut novel ONE MAN’S PARADISE was a finalist for the 2010 Shamus Award for Best First Novel and won the 2009 Minotaur Books / Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award. Douglas’ third novel LAST LAWYER STANDING will be released tomorrow.

Some of you may remember that in late July, I went on vacation to Hawaii. During the leg of the trip where we went to Honolulu, I stalked Douglas. Mercilessly. He changed his phone numbers. I hacked them. He issued a Cease and Desist order. Like that would ever work! He tried wearing disguises. Seriously, Doug? A blond dreads wig? Eventually, he gave up and agreed to include Straight From Hel on his final day of touring before the debut of Last Lawyer Standing.
Please welcome Douglas Corleone.
Title Fight 

All right, so it’s not really a fight.  Not even an argument.  More like a team sport in which there’s no other team.  We’re all on the same side.  We all want to put out the best book possible, and we all want a title that will hook readers, that will get them to pick up the book and read the gripping dust jacket copy and ultimately make the purchase.  We all want readers – authors and publishers alike. 

What many readers and aspiring writers don’t know is that the title the author places on his final manuscript isn’t always the title you ultimately see on store shelves.  In fact, in my experience it’s pretty rare.  For me, putting together 80,000 words of compelling prose is easier than thinking up one to three words that will make book browsers go, Mmmm.

Don’t get me wrong – so far, all three books I have had published bear titles that I’ve thought up.  But two of the three are titles that were thought up well after I’d written The End.  And the other was a title that had essentially been pre-approved by my editor.

Well after John Grisham was a bestseller, his publisher rereleased his debut novel A TIME TO KILL with a forward from the author that revealed two interesting things – one, that Grisham had to sell copies of his first book out of the trunk of his car, and two, that A TIME TO KILL was originally titled DEATHKNELL.

Why?  Because John’s publisher didn’t think DEATHKNELL was a very compelling title for a legal thriller.  I think they were probably right. 

 There’s no question that my publisher was right about my first novel.  ONE MAN’S PARADISE was originally titled HULA ME ONCE.  While writing the book, I was aiming for something fresh and funny, a story that would ultimately wear a colorful dust jacket and bear a clever title.  I was shooting for something along the lines of Bob Morris’s second mystery, JAMAICA ME DEAD.  But, at least with respect to the title, I missed. 

I know some authors who will put up a fight for a title they love.  For now at least, given the fact that my books consistently wind up with better titles after several brainstorming sessions with my agent and editor, I’m of the thinking that Publisher Knows Best.  That’s why a manuscript that was submitted with the generic title CHOICE OF EVILS is being released as LAST LAWYER STANDING this month.  And why I’m not entirely sure of what the title of next year’s international thriller will be. 

I am, however, sure of a few titles that you won’t be seeing next to my name in 2013.   

Thank you, Doug. 

Tomorrow, you'll be able to find Douglas' latest book, Last Lawyer Standing, everywhere: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, the iBookstore, IndieBound, and other places.

Okay, I was kidding about the Cease and Desist order. But…how do you like the picture I got of him? See that beach in the background? Look close. You'll see me. But I won't tell you where he lives. I'm sworn to secrecy. No, really, the judge made me swear.

Disclaimer: I'm kidding!

Leave a comment for Douglas. Give him a shout-out. Buy his books. Or just tell him to drop the restraining order against me.


  1. I'm going to check out Doug's books. Interesting story about John Grisham.

  2. Hey - if you have to stalk someone, best do it in Hawaii. Titles do catch the eye. Hula Me Once is kinda funny. Oh well. His books sound good.

  3. Hey, Douglas! I was fortunate my publisher kept the original title for my first book, but I couldn't even think of a title for the second. My publisher came up with that one.

  4. I've had a few books where I didn't come up with the title until after I finished the book. My one publisher changed one of my titles because they had another book with a similar title.

  5. One Man's Paradise and Last Lawyer Standing are both great titles, Doug.

    As I write, I often change the title. Even after it's finished, I change the title.

  6. Selecting the right title is important.

  7. Thanks to everyone for joining in the conversation. I'm someone who's turned on and off by titles, so I drive myself crazy when a manuscript of mine says UNTITLED on the cover. I like specific more than generic titles, though sometimes one word just sums a book up perfectly, like Jeff Abbott's Adrenaline.

    1. True, Douglas. Adrenaline fit the book and just the title made you pick it up. I saw Jeff speak not too long ago. He's also a great speaker.

  8. Now, who would want a mermaid to stop stalking them? That's how I KNOW your a fictioneer, Helen. ;)

    Douglas, thanks for the behind-the-scenes look at your title bouts. I got used to my first edit in any accepted story being, "We need to change the title." When editors stopped wanting to change the titles, I felt kinda sad. NOT.

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

    1. A fictioneer, huh? I like that label.

      Everything I write ends up with multiple titles before I finally decide on the "one".

  9. Thanks for posting this. Having worked for lawyers for years I like the idea of Last Lawyer Standing! I'm glad he realized that you never give up and it was best to surrender.

  10. I'm so glad Last Lawyer Standing won out at the title for this latest book. It is so much better than Choice of Evils for this story.

    I don't have trouble coming up with titles, and have so far not had a publisher change one. In a creative writing class I took some years ago, an instructor talked about how important it is for the title to speak to the main element of the story. So once I have a theme - one woman's courage for One Small Victory - I can come up with a title.

    If I don't have a title, it drives me nuts. I can hardly write. I don't think I could ever write a story that starts with Untitled. I tried that with a short story not too long ago, and I couldn't focus on the story.


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